How Brands are Employing Creative COVID-19 Messaging

Coca Cola

[Editor’s note: In addition to some brands, organizations and individuals doling out acts of kindness (check here for that particular dose of positivity), several are changing their messaging to reflect the new reality. Below is a collection of organizations using clever communications during this difficult moment. PRNEWS will add to this list periodically with examples of creative messaging from groups of all sizes. We welcome you to send your examples to Seth Arenstein (sarenstein@accessintel.com) or Nicole Schuman (nschuman@accessintel.com).

May 1, 2020

Jose Cuervo

Jose Cuervo is picking up the tab on meals ordered from Mexican restaurants this week until next Tuesday, which is Cinco de Mayo.

Users can  tweet a photo of a receipt for a meal with the hashtags #CincoToGo and #CuervoContest to @JoseCuervo and they'll pick people each day to get their meals covered.

April 28, 2020

Walgreens

Walgreens is bringing Red Nose Day digital.

Supporters can go to NosesOn.com or Walgreens.com to unlock a digital Red Nose, and share their #NosesOn selfies on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram to show their support for children in need.

This year's Red Nose Day special, which will air on May 21, will include a special episode of "Celebrity Escape Room," featuring Adam Scott, Courtney Cox, Jack Black, Lisa Kudrow and Ben Stiller.

Heinz

Heinz has launched Heinz for Diners, an initiative to send $2,000 to 500 of the country’s diners. To determine which diners will receive a check, the brand is asking people to nominate their favorite spot.

"Heinz has proudly stood on diners’ tables for decades,” said Dalia Adler, brand building lead at Heinz. “So now, at a time when every little bit counts, we’re proud to be supporting them.”

April 27, 2020

Pet food company Freshpet is creating a “Zoomies” conference meeting for pets, on Thursday, April 30

Rainn Wilson, along with his pitbulls and potbelly pigs, will be checking out all the cool cats and pups dialing-in, talking to pet parents about their WFH pet peeves, and myth busting popular pet misconceptions.

Zoomies - Rainn Wilson

April 26, 2020

Smirnoff

Smirnoff repurposed a big summer campaign to focus on staying at home.  The team retooled its message using footage that was shot back in February, according to Forbes.

"We did some new audio in a really safe way and we were able to take assets that we already had and repurpose them in a way with a message that is really nice for America right now," said Jay Sethi, CMO of Diageo Beer Company at Diageo.

April 24, 2020

Wendy's

Wendy's is giving away free four-piece orders of chicken nuggets today to “every car that rolls through the drive-thru.”

"Wendy's restaurant teams across the nation have been living out one of Wendy's most important values – Do the Right Thing – by helping their communities wherever they can during this unprecedented time," said Carl Loredo, Wendy's U.S. Chief Marketing Officer.

April 23, 2020

Red Lobster

Along with its Date Night Deals, Red Lobster is transporting guests to the restaurant with downloadable Zoom backgrounds and a curated Spotify playlist.

April 22, 2020

Oscar Mayer

Oscar Mayer has launched a campaign that encourages people to have front yard barbecues.

It  calls people to come out for a Front Yard Cookout on May 2, the same day the company will donate 1 million meals to Feeding America. Oscar Mayer will share up to 1 million additional meals for every post that uses the hashtag #FrontYardCookout throughout May.

April 21, 2020

Black is Human

Burrell Communications is continuing its "Black is Human" campaign to highlight the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 is having on the black community.

The initiative first began by calling attention to the violence affecting young black boys, that was tragically their “normal.”

The latest video shows Detroit bus driver Jason Hargrove, who died April 1 from COVID-19, eleven days after he shared his message about civic responsibility.

 

Bud Light

Bud Light is offering football fans the opportunity to continue the tradition of booing the commissioner during the draft.

Tag @budlight and use the hashtag #BootheCommish, and the company will donate $1 for each tweet it receives through April 25, up to $500,000, to the NFL Draftathon. The NFL has designated six organizations to receive assistance in this year’s Draftathon campaign, including the American Red Cross, Meals on Wheels and the United Way.

 

Reyka Vodka

The vodka brand has launched Beard of the Week, an ongoing contest for fans. Each week, the brand will announce a theme, and fans can post a photo of their beards on Instagram, using the hashtag #ReykaBeard.

For every #ReykaBeard hashtag posted, the brand will donate $5 to the Stand Fast Campaign, a bartending industry relief effort that aims to financially support bartenders impacted by Covid-19.

April 20, 2020

Champs Sports

Champs Sports and Eastbay are asking consumers to help inspire student athletes to share how they are using sports and staying active during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The companies will donate $1, up to $25,000, for every post that includes the hashtags #ChampsXEastbay and #NeverNotAnAthlete. The funds will be donated to Athletes for Relief, which raises money for the Center for Disaster Philanthropy COVID-19 Response Fund.

Discover Puerto Rico

Discover Puerto Rico is encouraging people not to travel through a campaign called "All in Good Time."

The site encourages would-be visitors to enjoy Puerto Rico's offerings through a series of virtual events, from dance lessons and yoga classes to meet-ups with local mixologists and baristas.

April 17, 2020

ADT

Security company ADT used user-generated content for its newest spot, which highlights how people are adjusting to life at home.

“DIY is definitely relevant,” said Shannon Hendrickson, VP of marketing at ADT. “Brands need to be nimble and flexible in this environment.”

April 15, 2020

PEBBLES Cereal

PEBBLES cereal is posting a daily video on Facebook, Instagram and the brand's website to teach children something new each day for the next 30 days. Each video will feature a unique activity that kids can do with minimal supervision, and will use items readily available in most homes.

“The creative community needs our support now more than ever,” said Amy Brothers, Brand Manager for PEBBLES. “We are excited to partner with a creative group of people to share their talents through the ‘Daily YABBA DABBA DOO' video series.”

Potbelly

Potbelly released a short video, the “Potbelly Lunch Break to showcase how the brand is pivoting their lunch break messages, and also to highlight the need for people to take a break during the day.

April 13, 2020

Jeep

Bill Murray is starring in a series of spots for Jeep to encourage consumers to stay off the road.

The effort is part of a campaign, #StayAtHome, from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. It is a revival of the brand's Super Bowl ads.

Waffle House

Waffle House is selling batches of its waffle mix  since many of its restaurants are closed. The item was so popular it sold out in four hours.

Panera Grocery and California Pizza Kitchen

Panera launched Panera Grocery – offering contactless pickup and delivery of grocery items. Consumers can order produce, dairy as well as bread and bagels through Panera’s website, app or GruhbHub.

In a similar vein, California Pizza Kitchen launched CPK Market, which offers basics like milk, rice flour, meat and dry pasta as well as CPK Meal Kits, such as build-your-own-pizzas.

California Pizza Kitchen’s SVP of marketing Ashley Ceraolo says, “Given the entire country is dining differently and family mealtime is more important than ever, establishing a concept where guests could confidently purchase affordable produce, meat, and other essential pantry items was the best way we felt we could attend to immediate needs while still doing what we do best.”

April 9, 2020

DoubleTree by Hilton

DoubleTree by Hilton is sharing its bake-at-home recipe for the brand’s chocolate chip cookie. More than 30 million cookies are consumed every year.

Copycat recipes have been shared online for years, but this is the first time Hilton has released the recipe.

“We know this is an anxious time for everyone,” said Shawn McAteer, SVP and global head, DoubleTree by Hilton. “A warm chocolate chip cookie can’t solve everything, but it can bring a moment of comfort and happiness.

Minor League Baseball

Minor League Baseball is celebrating opening day virtually. #MiLBAtHomeOpener is a day-long campaign to engage with fans across the country. Teams are participating in the event, supporting it via their digital and social media channels.

April 8, 2020

Nike

Nike is offering digital resources so people can stay active indoors. In addition, it's providing tools that span a range of digital content and platforms, including a library of workouts, livestreamed trainings with Nike Master Trainers and Nike's Made to Play initiative, which encourages kids to stay active. The brand's most recent spots remind viewers: "We may not be playing together, but we’ll keep moving forward."

April 7, 2020

Guinness World Records

Guinness World Records launched the #GWRChallenge, a weekly record contest it is hosting across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. People can participate in challenges that change weekly. All attempts utilize household materials, and new record holders will be announced at the end of each week.

Lowe's

Lowe’s is displaying thank-you messages in front yards, windows, porches and home exteriors for healthcare workers and other essential workers. Participants are encouraged to share their DIY thank-you message on social media using the hashtag #BuildThanks.

April 6, 2020

Walmart

Walmart's most recent commercial features voices workers around the country. The idea is to lift spirits during the pandemic.

The commercial, called "Walmart Neighbors," begins with a message: "To America, from our associates." Walmart employees were filmed singing  Bill Withers' "Lean on Me," a particularly  poignant choice since the singer died recently from COVID-19.

April 3, 2020

HBO

For the month of April, HBO is making some of its shows, documentaries and movies available free.

The promotion includes series such as The Sopranos, The Wire and Veep, as well as documentaries and an assortment of Warner Bros. movies. Programming will be available to stream without a subscription. In addition, you have to love HBO's hashtag, which spoofs its name: #StayHomeBoxOffice.

Red Roof

Red Roof is offering day rates for remote workers through its “Work Under Our Roof” program. Remote workers can pay rates starting at $29 for a quiet room, away from distractions of  children, spouses and pets.

Rooms at select properties are available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

April 2, 2020

City of Chicago and Mayor Lori Lightfoot

The city of Chicago launched a series of public service announcements starring Mayor Lori Lightfoot to encourage residents to stay home amid the coronavirus crisis.

In the series, Lightfoot takes on various personas to urge the public to stay at home and practice social distancing.

Havas Chicago worked with the mayor's office on the campaign, which took four days to complete.

 

April 1, 2020

Facebook

Facebook, with agency Droga5, created a short film , Never Lost, which will run across national and local broadcast television, as well as digital advertising channels.

The 90-second film tells real stories from people around the world, and the voiceover was provided by British poet Kate Tempest.

In a Facebook post, Mark Zuckerberg wrote, “We made a short film, Never Lost, to honor the solidarity and resilience of so many people coming together during this time. Thank you to everyone doing your part.”

Harry Potter At Home

J.K. Rowling, along with Audible, Bloomsbury, OverDrive, Pottermore Publishing and Scholastic, has launched Harry Potter At Home.

J.K Rowling and her team announced a special, open license for teachers to read the seven Harry Potter books aloud to their students in virtual read-a-long sessions on video. Additionally,  the first Harry Potter audiobook is free for everyone and is available in six languages (English, Spanish, French, Italian, German and Japanese).

There is also a new hub, WizardingWorld.com, which is a dedicated space that includes activity kits, craft videos, articles, quizzes, puzzles and more.

Mattel

Mattel, Inc. launched the Mattel Playroom, a free online resource that features activities and content from  American Girl, Barbie, Fisher-Price, Hot Wheels, Thomas & Friends and more, along with information and tips for  caregivers to encourage kids to #KeepPlaying.

The resource gives parents and caregivers access to printable coloring pages and activities, free and ready-to-play games, crafting and DIY projects, animated, stop-motion and live-action videos and downloadable apps.

The Mattel Playroom will be updated weekly.

March 31, 2020

T-Mobile

In honor of April Fool’s Day, T-Mobile is encouraging everyone to give thanks—not pranks. The company is asking that followers, and other companies,  get behind #GiveThanksNotPranks, forego the stunts and give to the relief charity of their choice this year.

T-Mobile will donate $1 every time anyone tweets their gratitude stories using #GiveThanksNotPranks and tags @TMobile, up to $200,000. In total, T-Mobile will donate up to $500,000 to Boys & Girls Clubs of America COVID-19 Relief Fund.

“It’s no secret that we love a good prank at T-Mobile, but right now, there’s nothing more important than the health and safety of our world. So we’re exchanging pranks for thanks, so EVERYONE can make a difference for our nation’s healthcare heroes and families in need. And to deepen the impact, I’m asking every other company to join us in support of the hashtag, to ditch the stunts this year and donate to the charities of your choice on April 1st,” said John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, in a press release.

Kentucky Department of Tourism

The Kentucky Department of Tourism, within the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, has released a series of videos dedicated to highlighting what the state has to offer.

“During this time of social distancing, Kentucky is finding creative ways to virtually showcase the culture, arts and heritage that Kentucky has to offer tourists from across the world,” said Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Mike Berry, in a press release.

The series include videos that feature a behind-the-scenes look at Kentucky musicians, culinary traditions from the state and a look into some of the best-known products produced in the Bluegrass State.

 

March 26, 2020

Major League Baseball

Today, on what should have been opening day for the MLB season, many baseball fans found themselves alone at home, rather than being surrounded by thousands of fellow fans at their favorite team's stadium. MLB launched #OpeningDayAtHome, which has trended at #1 all day on Twitter. MLB paired this with a touching video, narrated by Los Angeles Angels center fielder and American League all-star, Mike Trout, honoring the theme, "Even though we're apart, we can come together."

Budweiser

Budweiser, which is most certainly hurting from the lack of sporting events, released this American pride-filled video with a nod to MLB opening day and major league sports teams everywhere, including an announcement at the end regarding its #OneTeam partnership with the American Red Cross: "We're shifting our sports investments to help our heroes on the front lines...by using stadiums to host American Red Cross blood drives during the COVID-19 crisis."


March 24, 2020

Coca-Cola

In a Times Square ad, Coca-Cola spread the letters of its iconic log out to promote social and physical distancing. The tagline: "Staying apart is the best way to stay united."

IKEA

The ready-to-assemble Dutch furniture giant recently released an ad that seeks to remind us that even while we self-isolate and quarantine, our homes remain ready to provide shelter and warmth.

Puerto Rico

Despite discouraging tourists from visiting the island, Discover Puerto Rico wants to bring the culture of the island to your home. It is offering virtual salsa dancing, mixology and cooking classes, March 27-29. Discover Puerto Rico CEO Brad Dean hopes that the dancing and gastronomic delights will help uplift people while they remain home.

"We take great responsibility in helping stop the spread of COVID-19, so we're not encouraging travelers to visit us right now as everyone needs to stay safe in their homes. Instead, we want to extend an important part of our culture – our salsa music and dancing, our mixology and our delicious cuisine – to uplift people during these challenging times. We encourage travelers to daydream about our Island now and consider a visit later, when the time is right. In the meantime, we're excited to join them in their living rooms for this virtual getaway," Dean said.

The CCC Awards

The Society of Professional Journalists and the Associated Collegiate Press launched a weekly awards program to support and recognize college journalists covering the pandemic. It wants to salute student-journalists who earn little or no money, all while struggling with online classes. Weekly winners receive a one-year membership to The Society of Professional Journalists. On top of that, the organizations will highlight the winning work on social media and in newsletters, reaching an audience of 75,000.

Inter Miami CF

One of Major League Soccer's newest teams, Inter Miami CF, updated its logo to show the great white herons, which are normally interlocked to represent community, separated across its digital platforms to encourage social distancing.

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Talk about making lemonade out of lemons. Early in the coronavirus period, Tito's embarked on a social campaign urging people not to use its product. To overcome the lack of hand sanitizer, people were using Tito's vodka to mix their own. (Maybe it was the part about being handmade that confused people?)

Anyhow, trouble is, Tito's has 40 percent alcohol content. CDC recommends 60 percent alcohol content. March 23 Tito's pivoted, saying it will use its distilleries to produce hand sanitizer. 24 tons of it, to be exact. And will donate it. This adds to Tito's donation of $2 million, made earlier this month.